Two Latina women are holding posters that read, 'Aqui estamos, no nos vamos" outside City Hall.
Rally attendees hold up posters that read, 'Aqui estamos, no nos vamos,' outside City Hall. Photo taken by Annika Hom, June 6, 2023.

From street level, the Latinx organizers looked almost impenetrable. Outside City Hall Tuesday, more than 100 advocates squeezed onto the Polk Street sidewalk, loudly demanding the city fund a variety of Latinx programs in the upcoming budget.

Ani Rivera, the co-chair of the Latino Parity and Equity Coalition coalition and executive director of longstanding cultural institution Galería de la Raza, helmed a podium on City Hall’s steps, brightening the gray morning with her magenta haircut and bubblegum-pink blazer. Watching her were supporters dressed in black and orange Latino Task Force jackets, brandishing handmade posters that read “Aquí estamos, no nos vamos.” Here we are, and we’re not leaving. Among them was Supervisor Hillary Ronen. 

“We need to be at the table,” Rivera thundered. “Enough with giving us crumbs!”  

As city officials finalize the upcoming budget for the next two fiscal years, a dozen Latinx member organizations of the parity coalition and the Latino Task Force today said they want Latinx workforce programs, cultural hubs, and family programs to get financed. The funding is key to stabilizing a community that is still reeling from the pandemic, leaders said. 

Organizers of the rally did not point to specific budget line items or amounts they wanted increased, however, saying instead that the rally was a general call for more services for the Latinx community.

“Job loss and eviction is the primary reason we are affected by homelessness,” Rivera said. She said the fact that Latinx people earn $50,000 less than the average San Francisco salary is “shameful,” and pointed out that, since 2019, Latinx homelessness has jumped 55 percent

Ivan Corado-Vega, the Latino Task Force manager, said the city should support Latinx employment programs. “Without our labor, there is no San Francisco,” he said. 

The Latino Equity Parity Coalition also asked for six one-time capital improvements for city nonprofits. William Ortiz-Cartegena, a commissioner on the Small Business Commission, praised how the Mission has a 20 percent storefront vacancy rate compared to a 50 percent vacancy rate in other parts of the city. 

“This work couldn’t be done without the amazing nonprofits in our commercial corridors,” Ortiz-Cartegena said, punching his fist in the air. “We need our nonprofits and our small businesses so that they’re not displaced.”

At this stage, the mayor has submitted her budget and the Budget Legislative Analyst and the Budget and Appropriations Committee reviews and considers it. By July, the Board of Supervisors will amend the budget and vote to approve it, and send it back to the mayor to sign by August.

Advocates also demanded funding for cultural institutions, and family and youth programs, including many based in the Mission. At the front was Rodrigo Durán, the executive director of Carnaval, who punctuated speakers’ introductions by blowing his concha shell. One of the rally’s many young attendees hoisted a poster that read, “Keep Mission Cultural Center for the Latino Arts in the Mission.” 

“We know that art and culture is part of our healing and well-being,” said Celina Lucero, the executive director of social services organization Horizons Unlimited. 

Lucero emphasized the need to fund violence-prevention programs and mental health services. She pointed out that Black and Latinx youth report disproportionate suicide rates, and experience anxiety and depression. “We see that our families and youth are hurting,” Lucero said. 

Marvin Matamoros agreed, and shared how the Latino Task Force welcomed him with open arms as he navigated his next steps after recently graduating from UC Berkeley. The Mission High alum said he was living proof of the work nonprofits do — and asked for continued support. 

“Despite not having enough experience, I was welcomed, and I was given the opportunity to work with the community,” Matamoros said. “They saw my commitment, they saw my dedication, they saw my power.”

Multiple speakers on Tuesday argued that without the nonprofits or organizations present, Latinx communities would have suffered more in the pandemic. Though Latinx people make up 15 percent of the total San Francisco population, they account for nearly half of the Covid-19 cases.

Efrain Barrera, director of the Mission Promise Neighborhood, said Latinx groups had distributed more than $50,000 in cash grocery cards, $22 million in income replacement and direct cash assistance, and 17,000 diapers. “We know you need diapers,” he said.  

Last year, Latinx groups demanded the mayor keep funding Covid-19 resource hubs, which distributed free covid vaccines, tests and food to the community. As emergency federal funding ends this year, local funding could be crucial to keeping communities afloat, social workers and doctors have said. 

“We have been, and will continue to be, essential to the fabric of this city,” Barrera said. “It’s time to end the historic underinvestment of our Latino community.” 

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REPORTER. Annika Hom is our inequality reporter through our partnership with Report for America. Annika was born and raised in the Bay Area. She previously interned at SF Weekly and the Boston Globe where she focused on local news and immigration. She is a proud Chinese and Filipina American. She has a twin brother that (contrary to soap opera tropes) is not evil.

Follow her on Twitter at @AnnikaHom.

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  1. We’ll, it’s a new era for San Francisco. After years of vilifying landlords, businesses, and tech, SF is going to have to rethink its priorities. Hotels closing, property values down 20%, restaurants and stores shuttered, tourism and conferences down and an exodus of people who pay taxes, SF is soon to be a shadow of its former self. Without that tax base, good luck getting a single crumb. Let’s see how the board of supervisors manages things with a huge budget deficit. Strap in, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

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  2. San Francisco is looking at massive budget cuts.
    City policies have made San Francisco an unattractive work and tourist destination.
    With Hotels ranked #1 & #4 in room being handed back to the bank some 3,000 room or 9% of the SF inventory is now in danger.
    SF is looking at DownTown Office Appraisals being Reduced by 50%.
    Plus the Tourist Tax Fees will be a fraction of 2019.

    We are looking at Cuts not an expansion of services.

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  3. This the entirety of the “budget process,” nonprofits fighting for crumbs.

    I am sure that Breed has other nonprofit “partners” who did not cast their political lots with her opponents that will get funded.

    I told you all that this would be the next shoe to drop. The only possible out from this is to leverage Breed’s low approval ratings. The supes don’t have the nerves of steel to make such a play and follow through on it successfully. And they’ve done nothing to broaden their base, I’m not saying rightward towards Breed, rather giving up their prejudices against San Franciscans to broaden to the grassroots, since they got gerrymandered out of contention and Mar lost.

    As memory faulted Feinstein said about Harris, most of us say about Breed: “What is she doing there?” Nobody knows what Harris is doing. But Breed is presiding over the parting out of the professional progressive operations in real time, uncontested.

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    1. There are no funds in the 2023 or 2024 budgets.
      Both the Office & Retail Commercial Downtown Tax Collection will be a fraction of what was received last year as buildings get their assessments reduced by 50%.

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